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How Summer Can Affect People with Cancer


Summer is the time for fun outdoor activities. Swimming, picnicking, and boating are among the top of the list. However, if you’re battling cancer, summer poses lots of risks that may not be as bad for others. If you’re going through chemotherapy, radiation, or other types of treatment, side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and hair loss can be worse when temperatures rise. Spending a lot of time in the sun can intensify these side effects and harm your health. Fortunately, you can take action to potentially prevent these side effects from becoming worse.


Here are some tips to enjoy your summer outside while dealing with cancer treatment.


Stay hydrated. You may lose your appetite for foods and liquids if you’re undergoing chemotherapy. This and other treatments also can affect your kidneys. This means it’s extra important to monitor how many fluids you’re drinking throughout the day. Two liters per day is recommended. If you’re spending time outside, drink even more. If you become dehydrated, you may experience cracked lips, feelings of weakness, dizziness, or fatigue. Dehydration can lead to heat stroke or kidney damage. It also may worsen vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and other side effects of cancer treatment.


Protect your body from the sun. If you’re undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, or targeted therapies, you are at increased risk for skin toxicity when exposed to the sun and UV rays. If you have burns from radiation treatment, going out into the sun can make them worse. Wear lots of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 50, a wide-brimmed hat, and light colored, protectant clothing with long sleeves. Stay in the shade as much as possible.


Avoid activities that can lead to infections. Since chemotherapy can result in decreased white blood cell count, receiving chemo can increase your risk of developing an infection. Swimming in lakes, eating food that’s been in the sun, and other activities can cause infections and other illnesses if you have a weakened immune system. To potentially prevent this from happening, bring your own food and properly store it. Sit in a lawn chair while others swim. Limit how much time you spend outdoors. Overdoing it can cause lasting damage to your health.


Fighting cancer requires a lot of preventative action. If you or someone you know has the disease, reach out to Chix 4 a Cause. Learn more about our Gifts of Love program at chix4acause.org today.

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